Gov’t provides tractors for free to rice growers

Farmers prepare to plant rice in Pres. Roxas, North Cotabato. Photo courtesy of everydaynorthcotabato.com
Farmers prepare to plant rice in Pres. Roxas, North Cotabato. Photo courtesy of everydaynorthcotabato.com

Due to the removal of 15 percent counterpart on machinery acquisition, a growing number of farmers’ organizations are applying to avail themselves of the Department of Agriculture’s Rice Mechanization Program.

This was bared by Dr. Dionisio G. Alvindia (Scientist III), executive director of Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization who confirmed that mechanization has become “fully free” since the beginning of the Duterte administration.

Dr. Alvindia said that during the previous administrations, there was an 85-15 rule between DA and farmers wherein DA will provide 85 percent of the payment for the machinery while the beneficiary will pay for the remaining 15 percent.

The executive director explained that the counter-parting scheme was only to implement the “sense of ownership” to the recipient organization.

“Para naman ma-alagaan ng mabuti ng recipient ang machinery since may investment sila doon (For the recipient to handle the machineries properly since they have partly invested on those),” added Dr. Alvindia.

Dr. Alvindia said that the intention could have been good, however, he said that most farmer organizations could not afford the 15 percent counterpart even if DA has already lowered it to 10 percent.

“Only big cooperatives or associations could afford the counterpart,” he added.

Dr. Alvindia stressed DA’s rigid campaign for rice mechanization to fast-track the attainment of the rice self-sufficiency goal explaining that factors such as good land preparations and rice transplant could only be achieved by using machineries.

The executive director noted that one of the challenges confronting the DA is the fact that some Filipino farmers continue to make use of traditional planting methods despite the availability of farm equipment.

He further said that farmers’ organizations do not easily acquire machineries because a feasibility study will be done to assure that the number of machines provided will not exceed in an area.

Another factor DA considers, according to Dr. Alvindia, is the intensity of farmers’ organization and the activeness of local government units (LGUs) in the sector of agriculture.